Thursday, June 16, 2011

Marathon Thoughts

90% of me wants to run a marathon.

10% of me wants to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday mornings, relax on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, to forget the stretching and the warms ups, the strength training and the cool downs.

I ran a half marathon as part of a relay team with my brother, way back in 2004, as a sophomore in college. I was young enough and confident enough to just do it. I didn't really train for it. I had run 10 miles around a lake on summer vacation and 10.5 miles on Thanksgiving morning without any training. So I figured, what's another 3? My training runs were on trails, up hills, no miles, just time. I went on one long run, 7.5 miles, on country roads around my college. Was I worried about not training? Uh, nope! In fact, my dad, some of his running buddies, and my brother's girlfriend were all running the full. It felt like Andrew and I were just wimping out with the half marathon.

So I did it. I came home on October Break, packed a bag, and hopped in the family van for a trip to Columbus. I picked up my goodie bag with my way too huge tee shirt, ate carbs, and tried to get a good night of sleep. I got up, ate what Shelley ate, jogged to the starting line, and tried to stick with her 8 minute mile pace. And I did, for about the first 5 miles. After that, I lost her and just kept running along. Racing normally makes me nervous, but I didn't have any expectations for myself. I was just doing it to do it!

I'm not exactly sure what my time was. If I remember correctly, there was some disparity between what my watch said and what the split was recorded as. I think the posted time was 1:52. I attributed that to the fact that I had to untie the chip from my shoe with stiff, cold fingers in order to transfer it to Andrew's shoe. Then I kept jogging until I found my mom. When I found her, the first words out of my mouth were "Thank God I'm done." If you know me, you know I don't take the Lord's name in vain, but it just popped out. Truly, I was thankful that this run was done, but I was so embarrassed that I said that! I was exhausted, freezing in my shorts and long-sleeved shirt, and I wanted nothing but to sit in a blanket and sip hot chocolate. I think I was even crying a little bit. My mom congratulated me and gave me my warm clothes and probably even got my hot chocolate as I hobbled around on stiff legs. We watched the rest of the racers come in, my dad and Shelley both qualifying for Boston.

If only I had known that running 13.1 miles was really an accomplishment. With other people in my life who had run so many complete marathons, I felt like my half was hardly noticed. (Typical middle child for you, huh?) And, without really training hard for it, I guess I felt like it didn't deserve to be noticed.

And, if only I had known that my overall pace of 8:30 minutes/mile was really quite decent. I look back at my 19 year old self who ran 8:30 minute miles without thinking much of it and wish that I could get some of that speed back. In my memory, it was effortless, although I'm sure something about running up and down the Houghton hills had just a bit to do with it. Now, a few years wiser, I realize that 13.1 miles is crazy for some people even to contemplate. It can be a huge accomplishment. My husband recently ran a half, as did two sisters-in-law (one on each side), and I think of how proud I was of them!

So I'm talking myself into running a marathon. No, I don't think it will be a fast marathon. I'd need to do a lot of speed work for that. No, I don't think it will compare to my dad if he does the same marathon, or my sister-in-law who is gearing back up into marathon shape after the birth of their first baby. No, it wouldn't compare to Dan, who is also considering running the same marathon. But it would be my first marathon. It'd be my declaration that I can achieve my goals, that I can be that woman who follows through with a training plan, that I can run 26.2 miles.

I'm just about there. The visit to this website to sign the next 4 months of my life away.

But I really just want to know: what does the tee shirt look like?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dan's Best Ever Kale

Just in case you get some kale in your own summer vegetable adventures, this is how Dan prepared it.*

Saute some chopped sweet onion and red peppers in a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add a partial package of frozen green beans. Stir them around. Dump in a few (too many) red pepper flakes. Search the cupboard for some chicken stock and add a cup or so. Throw in a few raw almonds for crunch. Let the concoction simmer for a few minutes. Meanwhile, wash and stem your kale and toss it into the pot. Saute until the kale cooks down, about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

*Confession: I tried to micromanage him through his recipe after I asked him to make it. It's a bad habit of mine -- asking Dan to do something and then jumping in to take over. These were various sentences that a fly on the wall might have heard: Aren't you going to use a whole package of green beans? Why did you add whole almonds? There are slivered almonds in the freezer! Don't you think you should wash the kale? The salad spinner is in the fridge. How are you washing it?

I need to show Dan that I trust him in the kitchen, and with a few more experiences like these, I'll zip my lips in anticipation of the tasty results.

Monday, June 13, 2011

CSA: Week 2

Week 2 for the CSA rolled around, and I have to admit, I was dreading it a little bit. The problem was that we still hadn't eaten some of our CSA veggies and yet other store-bought veggies were hanging out in our refrigerator too. It was one of those goofy weeks when we ended up not eating as many meals as I had planned -- out to dinner, leftovers, and a meal not on our original menu. Added to that, this week the entire box was ours because of M & M's generosity, although we still shared some of the bounty. So there were no tears because the box wasn't overflowing. In fact, I was a little relieved.

Our haul on Wednesday included:
1 bag of "chard"
1 small bag of broccoli
1 bag of kale
1 bag of garlic scapes
1 bunch of green onions
1 qt. and 1 pt. of fresh strawberries

The strawberries were beautiful, ripe the entire way through, perfectly red and juicy. As I had spent an hour in the blazing heat on Monday with Bethany picking about 10 pounds of strawberries (and had spent the previous evening making them in to jam and strawberry cotulis), I knew that I couldn't hoard these berries. We made a date to share them with Mike, Mary and their boys over some strawberry shortcake with freshly whipped cream. Can we say delicious?

As for the garlic scapes, I decided to make them into another pesto, similar to what I did with the garlic greens. I've decided I like basil pesto more, but since I needed to use these, it worked! It's a pretty strong flavor, but it jazzed up our pasta.

The green onions went into our Pasta and Italian Sausage Veggie Extravaganza. That was solution to the way-too-many vegetables conundrum, and oh my goodness -- it was fantastic! Pasta from the cupboard, asparagus languishing in the fridge, red peppers purchased for a dish we couldn't make (see next paragraph!), green onions, leftover garlic greens pesto, and some bulk italian sausage, all topped with some Parmesan cheese made a fantastic dinner. (We ate the broccoli as we prepped for this meal, after a short 13 mile bike ride.)

And the chard, a whole bag of which we still had from the previous week? Well, last week it was called chard, but it looked a lot more like lettuce and much less like the pictures of chard that were posted online. And in this week's newsletter? It was dubbed lettuce. We were much more willing to eat that, and most of it was consumed in our chicken salads on Saturday evening.

The kale is wilting in our fridge for a few more minutes, but I'm going to give it a whirl in a variation of this recipe. Dan searched for "best kale recipe ever" when he learned that we had gotten this in our share, and I think that mixing the kale with beans (but skipping the mushrooms, of course) will make it a bit more palatable for the two of us.

The last thing in our share was a bunch of flowers. Dan was probably right when he called them weeds, but they have been brightening up our apartment all week.

Hope your adventures in summer eating are as delicious as ours have been!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

CSA: Week 1

School is out for the summer! And now that I have some time to myself again, I'll report on life here in Dayton.

Dan and I, along with our friends Mike and Mary, joined a CSA this summer. A CSA, for those of you who don't know, stands for Community Supported Agriculture. We sent a farm a check before the growing season began, and they use those funds to operate their farm. Then, every week from May to September, we get a crate of fruits and veggies, which we split between the two of us. It's a great way to support local farmers without the hassle of winding my way through the Second Street Market every week. It also forces us to get creative with veggies that I wouldn't usually buy.

So this Wednesday, I stopped by the pick-up location and met George, a guy with dreads who I assume to be the farmer. He handed me a crate filled with this stuff, which we split, as best as possible with M&M:

A bunch of garlic greens
Green onions
Swiss chard
Chinese cabbage (all ours)
Boston Lettuce (all theirs)
Strawberries (mostly theirs)
Granola (all ours)
1 dozen eggs

He assured me that the crate will fill up with additional veggies as the season goes on, but after all the rain we've been having, they are still light on produce. That's why we got the homemade organic granola and the farm-fresh eggs.

So, how am I doing on using things this week? Well, so far I really haven't (oops!). Dan ate the granola for breakfast, so that's gone. I used one green onion in my quesadilla yesterday. But here are my plans for the rest of it.

Sunday: Eggs & Bacon for breakfast. (I love farm fresh eggs. They are infinitely better than store bought.)
Garlic greens pesto (They had some on the table when I picked up the crate, and their newsletter provided the recipe. It was delicious and a very vibrant green.)
Monday: Stir fry with the Chinese Cabbage and Green Onions
Tuesday: Something with the chard! Maybe this, although sometimes the texture of sauteed spinach grosses me out and it's kind of the same sort of things. And by that time, our chard is 1 week old. But we've to eat it. I'll let you know how we use it up.